Tultugan Festival

“Tultug: The Root of Maasin’s Tultugan Festival” By Hermie F. Cartagena

Bamboo plants are abundant in Maasin. One of the varieties that can be found in the area is the “kawayan tinik” and is produced yearly with more than 2 million poles. Thus, bamboo is the primary material in producing local products and handicrafts in Maasin.  The place has been supplying bamboo poles and various handicrafts in Iloilo and has even been exporting them internationally (Marin, 2017).  Being one of the primary exporters of bamboo products in the region and the country, this municipality in the central part of Iloilo became known as the bamboo capital of the Visayas.

In celebration of the abundant supply of bamboo products in the municipality, the Tultugan Festival was established. The festival, initiated or institutionalized by Mayor Mariano Malones in 1999, is considered a contemporary festival sponsored by the government (Muyco, 2016).  Tultugan came from the word “tultug,” which means the act of making sound by tapping or striking the bamboo instrument (Marin, 2017).

The Tultugan Festival is primarily dedicated to bamboo and its various uses and functions. Held every fourth week of December, it features street dancing and a tribal dance competition. The highlight of the celebration is the tribal dance competition that showcases the various usage of bamboo in the community. The performers show how to creatively utilize the bamboo materials as part of the performance, incorporating them into their props, costumes, and instruments.  Aside from the street dancing and tribal dance competition, the festival also highlights the “Gwapo Karabaw,” a contest wherein the participants adorn their water buffalos with various ornaments; “Parada sang Litson,” where roasted pigs are presented in the streets through a parade; “Rara Amakan” contest, wherein the speed in weaving bamboos is tested; “Kadang Race,” a test of balance; and the search for Miss Tultugan (“News Today” 2005, p. 1, paragraph 3). The festival is a way of preserving the local culture for the next generations to come, and various approaches were applied in redesigning and modernizing the bamboo material.  Likewise, various rhythmic patterns were composed and developed by local musicians to provide a dynamic and vibrant sound in the performance (Marin, 2017; Jacinto, 2013).